Higher ABV wines in cooler years?

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D@ve D y r 0 f f
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Higher ABV wines in cooler years?

#1 Post by D@ve D y r 0 f f » June 30th, 2020, 12:07 pm

At about 50:55 into the IDTT episode at the link below, Rod Berglund starts to discuss his experience of how some of his highest ABV levels have come in cooler years, because (oversimplifying - please listen to him at the link) they pick earlier in warmer years and let the grapes hang longer in cooler years.

https://soundcloud.com/leviopenswine/rodberglund

I found this fascinating and I would love to hear from our winemakers or others here who can further expound on this, and offer additional confirming or contrary examples from their own experience.

Thanks! [cheers.gif]

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Robert Dentice
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Re: Higher ABV wines in cooler years?

#2 Post by Robert Dentice » June 30th, 2020, 12:19 pm

D@ve D y r 0 f f wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 12:07 pm
At about 50:55 into the IDTT episode at the link below, Rod Berglund starts to discuss his experience of how some of his highest ABV levels have come in cooler years, because (oversimplifying - please listen to him at the link) they pick earlier in warmer years and let the grapes hang longer in cooler years.

https://soundcloud.com/leviopenswine/rodberglund

I found this fascinating and I would love to hear from our winemakers or others here who can further expound on this, and offer additional confirming or contrary examples from their own experience.

Thanks! [cheers.gif]
I am not a winemaker but would guess part of the explanation has to be around acid levels.

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Re: Higher ABV wines in cooler years?

#3 Post by Eric Lundblad » June 30th, 2020, 1:03 pm

My highest alc % RRV Pinot I've made was from 2011 (14.5%). The closer the grapes are to picking, the more delicate they are. I really don't like grapes, Pinot esp, to go through a heat wave close to picking. There's a significant shift in character pre and post heat wave, and coastal Calif is prone to heat waves in the fall, esp sept. Also, at a certain point in their development, it becomes about the style & character of the wine, rather than ripeness per se (under or over ripeness).

In 2011, there was zero chance of a heat wave, or that was my assessment at the time...so I let them hang longer than I usually do (my RRV Pinots are mostly mid to high 13%). I'm quite happy with how this turned out and is developing.

On a related note: I've been to a few Swan Trenton Estate Pinot vertical tastings...one (+?) of them included the 74, which was picked quite late, later than Rod intended I believe. It was 15.3% (or so), and it showed well and wasn't showing any ill aging effects normally associated with higher alc wines, esp ca pinots. I wasn't my fav of the 70s that were open that day, but it would have been great on its own at dinner.
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larry schaffer
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Re: Higher ABV wines in cooler years?

#4 Post by larry schaffer » June 30th, 2020, 1:12 pm

There are so many variables here that it's a bit too complicated to simplify in all honesty. 'Cool' vs 'Warm' year also has to be looked at from region to region - a 'cooler' year in Napa may not mean the same thing down here.

With a cooler year, you are generally waiting longer to pick - waiting for sugar levels to rise, waiting for acid levels to fall, and generally waiting for 'flavors' to come into balance - however you want to define that. In warmer years, things move much faster, and sometimes you have to 'sacrifice' flavor development because sugars are rising too quickly.

Again, it's complicated . . .
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